In this lesson we’re going to deal with confidence. It’s by far the most important thing in all of bass fishing, really in fishing for anything. But, we’re not going to talk about confidence in execution. The kind of confidence I want to discuss is in believing in yourself and especially when things start to go bad.

Losing a fish, or any similar problem, shouldn’t affect your confidence. Most of the time that has nothing to do with anything you did wrong, certainly not if you’re an experienced angler. It just happens. It’s a bad break that means nothing. The real problem comes when you think you have things figured out in practice, and then when the tournament starts you can’t buy a bite. You need confidence to turn that day into a productive one.

That kind of confidence comes from inside you. It’s based on experience and is a part of being competitive. You have to “know” that you can catch them. You have to believe you can figure things out. You make it happen. That might come from using a particular lure in a particular color, or it might come from knowing you can fish deep, or shallow, or wood, or grass, or riprap or anything else and catch them — anywhere, anytime, under any conditions.

And when I say make it happen, that’s exactly what I mean. The very best athletes make something happen when it counts. OK, so it’s raining and the football field is slick and so is the ball. The best quarterbacks make a good pass and the best receivers make the catch, and most of the time they make the catch even if the pass isn’t that good. It’s not about good or bad. It’s about getting it done when it counts. You have to do the same thing as an angler.

One thing is for sure. You’ll never see a confident angler running all over the lake fishing deep and shallow with every lure in his boat. You’ll see him have confidence in his strategy, and you’ll see him work it until it works. It’s a matter of bearing down, gritting your teeth and having the confidence to follow your plan through to the end.

Now, I know that sometimes nothing we do as anglers puts fish in the boat. There are too many factors affecting our sport for that to happen. We do know, however, that if we have confidence in what we’re doing it’ll work more times than it won’t work. That’s the real key to having confidence.

You’ll know you have the confidence thing right when you adopt a strategy that puts five bass in the boat after conditions have unexpectedly changed. And you’ll know you have it right when you don’t put five keepers in the boat but you can honestly say that if you could do the day over you’d make exactly the same decisions.

In the next lesson we’ll talk about how the physical — rest, nutrition, exercise — affects the mental side of this game.

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